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Bookstagram: What is it, and how do I start?

What is Bookstagram?


Over the years, a number of communities have grown on Instagram and Bookstagram is – no surprise here – dedicated to the lovely world of books! To have a Bookstagram account is to use your account to share books you’re enjoying, that you’d recommend, books you’re excited about or those that you’re interested in reading. There are also subsets with accounts that have specific genre preferences, namely fantasy/YA, literary fiction, non-fiction and more but plenty of people have overlaps.


Why join?


There are so many perks to being part of this wonderful community, both in a recreational and a professional sense.


Recreational

  • Connect with like-minded people and get the chance to chat about all the fabulous books that you’ve all been reading lately.

  • Swap recommendations, see where the hype is real and where it’s been overblown and make some friends from all over the world.


Professional

  • Twitter is the place to start developing a professional network, but Instagram is definitely somewhere you can follow it up. A number of people that work in publishing also have Bookstagram accounts and often share things related to their jobs. It’s another great way to gain some insight – but don’t expect their accounts to be all work and no play.

  • Follow imprints and publishers you like to have another way to keep up to date with what they’ve got coming out, and see for yourself how they’re using Instagram for marketing purposes.

  • You’re on the ground-level to keep an eye on current trends, giving you a chance to see in real time which books are making waves, not only in the UK, but also around the world.

  • Instagram is a good platform for demonstrating your interest in books/publishing and also practicing key marketing, publicity and editorial skills. It’s a great opportunity to develop transferrable skills for job applications like writing copy (captions), taking photographs, developing a brand, creating engaging content and using Instagram insights (if you make your account an influencer/blogger one).


Where should I start?


The best way to get stuck in is to follow plenty of incredible accounts that are full of recommendations that will leave your heart happy, your library card tired and your bank account empty. One thing I’d definitely advise is following a variety of people, because that’s the best way to get access to titles you might never have encountered otherwise. There are so many accounts that I would recommend to give you a great start at being part of, or following, the Bookstagram community, but I’ve tried to narrow it down here.


@reads.and.reveries – this year Tasnim created the hashtag #readingblackbritain2020, and she reads such a great variety of books before writing reviews that it’s almost impossible to avoid picking up a copy for yourself.


@litwithtegan – for cosy home vibes, some of the cutest dogs around, plenty of thriller recommendations and genuinely honest reviews, Tegan is definitely the account to go to.


@__thelitnerd_ + @women.and.books – I love both of these accounts for offering something different: @_thelitnerd_ is perfect for the best literature memes, and @women.and.books shares gorgeous paintings of women reading.


@poppyandherbooks + @eleanor.reads.books + @blackbookbitch – Poppy, Eleanor and Hope all work in the publishing industry, which means that alongside the fabulous books they read and recommend regularly, you can also get some insight into the publishing world.


@ab_reads – this year Abbie has been primarily interested in reading more translated fiction, which means she often shares titles that don’t get as much hype but are certainly worth reading. Abbie’s account is one of many that show how great Bookstagram can be when you enjoy some variety.


@ujuonyishi – Uju writes beautifully about the books she reads, and has a demonstrable commitment to reading diversely that is constantly enriching my feed and my own reading life.


Some further accounts I’d suggest include: @heathereatsbooks, @absorbedinpages, @namireads, @bethrdb_reads, @wildlandpages, @poppymaeve, @what.rosie.reads, @sisiliareads, @mywayorthehemingway, @whatgabyreads, @whatgracereads, @nellreadsbooks, @whatdanielareads, @book.matters, @whatkatereadnext, @bookswithmolly, @readingmountains, @booksandabuzz – and me, @bookishelise. Come and say hi! I’d be very happy to chat about starting your own Bookstagram.




Tips for Your Own Account


There’s no secret formula for instantly gaining thousands of followers, and the most important thing to remember is to have fun! Obviously growth is a really satisfying thing to see when you’re putting time and effort into what you’re sharing, but at the end of the day having a Bookstagram account is a great way to connect with other readers.


If you follow some fabulous accounts, then you’ll already be getting great insight into what makes an engaging Bookstagram page, but it’s also great to make your own mark. Be creative with what you put out, and make sure you’re sharing what you want to, not what you think you have to. Whether you’re only talking about Victorian literature, want to read all the best romance novels, or are keen to keep up with the newest releases, your Bookstagram is a personal thing. Do what makes you happy!


by Elise Middleton